This is the most important book published on the Great War this year. The first edition produced back in 1995 seemed unbeatable, but this is even better. Revised from top to bottom it covers the carefully indexed contributions to the air war of some 16,800 British, Commonwealth and US air personnel, with details of some 13,500 casualties described. Put like that it sounds dry, tedious even - far from it! Using a day-by-day format it tracks every detail of the air fighting in all war fronts, linked by a cool and authoritative commentary, which places events in the air and on the ground in a proper context. Well written and lively, it is never dull.
For this brand new edition, nearly half the entries have been updated or are new, and there is now a 4,500 strong section on accidents in all war theatres from 1912-1919. Much more cross-checking of casualties with German records has been achieved with more than 3,000 German claims now firmly linked to Allied losses. There are extensive new analytical appendices as well. Beautifully illustrated there are no less than 289 fully-captioned photos - many appearing for the first time. The air war was really all about the ground war. Photographic reconnaissance, artillery observation, contact patrols and interdiction bombing are the meat and drink of the flying services throughout the war. Without their contribution no offensive of any size could be considered. Aircraft identified worthy targets and then guided the shells of the supreme British weapon of the Great War - the guns of the Royal Artillery. Henshaw tracks the development of every aerial function, recording all the different types of missions flown - this book is the history of the air war laid out bare before you.
I found the first edition invaluable in writing my own aviation books, using it to track down and identify incidents referred to in oral histories and personal experience records. It allowed me to accurately date incidents, put names to anonymous observers/pilots, to check on the fate of men mentioned in passing. The new edition has already proved equally priceless in the course of writing an article on the development of air power in 1915. It makes me itch to get back to writing books on the aviation of the Great War - after all the hard work has already been done by the admirable Mr Henshaw. If you are interested in aviation during the Great War you MUST buy this book. If you are seriously interested in the Great War you SHOULD buy this book. It is that good!
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